Young, Mount tame Lions – MSC’s Venditelli, Lincoln’s Cipriano impress with bat
Woonsocket Call – May 16, 2021
By Branden Mello
WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles sophomore Olivia Young had already pitched 13 innings in the previous 20 hours, but she needed to find just a little bit more gas in her expiring gas tank in the final inning of Saturday morning’s Division II Blackstone Valley clash with Lincoln.
Nursing a two-run advantage, Young gave up a lead-off single to Lincoln freshman dynamo Lauren Cipriano and then a one-out walk to Liz Hien to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After striking out just two of the previous 14 Lion hitters, Young fired six straight strikes to leave both runners stranded, as the Mounties secured an 8-6 home win.
“I’m a little tired, but I have a lot of adrenaline right now, so I’m feeling pretty good,” Young said after striking out 13 batters for her fourth straight double-digit strikeout performance to start the season. “After [Hien] got on base, I just knew that we needed to settle down and focus and get the win. We really needed to win this after losing to Johnston the other day.”
“The thing with Olivia is she tends to get stronger as the game goes on, so I have a lot of faith in her,” Mount coach Henry Coleman said. “Her mental focus and toughness is just top notch.”
Lincoln (2-2 Division II) led 3-0 after the top of the first inning, but the Lions gave up three runs in the bottom of the first and never led again. Cipriano continued her strong start at the plate with three more hits to go along with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Lead-off hitter Alexia Noel and No. 2 hitter Amanda Conti also added two runs apiece.
The Lions have dropped a pair of two-run games after starting the season with a sweep of improving Johnston.
“This is a very competitive division,” Lincoln coach Alyssa McCoart said. “Mount has a good team and this was a back and forth game. They have some really solid bats at the top of the order, kudos to them. We started strong in the first inning, fell off for a few innings and then bounced back.”
Mount St. Charles (3-1 Division II) bounced back from Friday’s loss to Johnston with Saturday’s win. Young not only led the way in the circle, but she also scored three runs. The hitting stars of the day, however, were lead-off hitter Kaylie Leclair (3-for-4 with a run scored) and freshman Lily Venditelli.
Venditelli produced an RBI single in the first inning, an RBI single in a three-run third inning and her two-run double in the fifth inning proved to be the difference in the game. The drive to left field off of reliever Houstyn McConaghy scored Young and older sister Olivia Venditelli to make the score 8-6.
“Lily has been doing a good job putting the bat on the ball and we have confidence in her coming through in big situations like she did today,” Coleman said. “She’s gotten off to a really good start this year and we needed it. Moving forward, we just need to put together a full seven innings.”
Mount started the game with an infield error and they were made to pay for it when Conti singled and Cipriano followed with a two run double. The freshman scored a batter later when Hien smoked a single. Young managed to avoid further damage by striking out three of the next four hitters.
The home side grabbed three runs back in the first, but they caught a break when neither umpire realized a runner was at first when Jade Zuena struck out, but ran to first on a passed ball. The missed call proved to be pivotal because Young and the younger Venditelli had RBI singles to tie the game.
Mount built a three-run lead in the third inning when Holy Cross commit Callie Thibault tripled to right and scored on a sacrifice fly by Olivia Venditelli. Lily Venditelli added an RBI single and then scored on a Bella Stanzione hit.
Lincoln responded with three runs in the fifth and it all started with the top of the order. Noel (infield single), Conti (infield single) and Cipriano (intentional walk) loaded the bases for Hien, who cracked a double to score a pair of runners. Cipriano scored on a wild pitch, but with runners at the corners, the inning ended because the Lions batted out of order.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, you just go out and play,” McCoart said of Cipriano, who hit a pair of home runs in her first varsity game last week. “We rely on her offensively and defensively and she just puts the ball in play. I know she’s going to be a hard out because she has that grit and goes up there knowing what pitch she wants. She’s gotten the job done.”
Young and Olivia Venditelli scored on Lily Venditelli’s double to left in the bottom of the fifth to provide Young the runs she needed to win the game.
The Mounties are back in action Monday when they look to avenge Friday’s loss to Johnston when they travel to Johnston Memorial Park. The Lions hope to snap a two-game losing streak on Monday night at 6 o’clock when Toll Gate comes to Sullivan Field.
Mounties finish sweep of Novans – Belisle blasts triple in Mount win over father’s team
Woonsocket Call – May 13, 2021
By Branden Mello
WOONSOCKET — Woonsocket softball coach Dan Belisle bonds with his daughter, Mount St. Charles sophomore Caitlyn, through sports, but over the last week sports – more specifically softball – were a banned topic in the Belisle household.
“He didn’t let me ask him anything about his plays or anything he was going to do with his team,” the younger Belisle said. “He just told me to talk to him after the games.”
That’s because the younger Belisle was playing the first varsity games of her Mount career and they just happened to be against the Novans. The younger Belisle recorded her first varsity hit – a double pulled down the right-field line – in Saturday’s home win over Woonsocket.
The two sides squared off again on Wednesday afternoon in the first league game ever played at Cass Park and Caitlyn Belisle again delivered a hit that had her dad smiling under his mask.
The sophomore outfielder launched a triple to the rightfield fence with one out in the second inning. She came around to score what turned out to be the game-winning run in the Mounties’ 10-2 Division II victory over the young Novans.
“It’s hard to say what this means, but I was secretly smiling under my mask when she had that hit,” Dan Belisle said. “With the score the way it is, I was kind of able to root for her quietly. If we get into a close game next time, I’m going to be rooting for my pitcher to get her out. That ball she hit in the second inning was one of the farthest I’ve ever seen her hit. She really got a hold of that one.”
Mount St. Charles (2-0 Division II) controlled both contests and if not for the Belisles, the story of the series would’ve been the pitching of sophomore righty Olivia Young. The Mountie struck out 15 Novans for the second straight game and only sophomore Aje’ana Coleman (2-for-3) avoided striking out.
Young gave up hits to three of the first five batters she faced, but she only allowed one more hit over the final 6.2 innings. At one point early in the game, Young struck out six Novans and eight of nine.
“She gets stronger as the game goes on, that’s just her make up,” Mount St. Charles coach Henry Coleman said. “Since we’ve been able to work with her, she just has that mindset where nothing is going to faze her, even if she gets off to a slow start.
She has the same bulldog mentality that she’s going to see things through.”
Woonsocket (0-2 Division II) received a pair of solid performances in the circle from Leah Rivers, who wasn’t expected to pitch this season. Freshman Julia Raymond and sophomore Rylie Forcier both suffered injuries last week that prevented them from throwing. Belisle is hopeful Forcier will be available to pitch the first game of a series with Gatorade Player of the Year Haley Venturini and Scituate on Saturday.
Mount received runs from Holy Cross-bound catcher Callie Thibault and Young in the opening inning, but the Novans responded with a pair of runs. Shortstop Abby Desjardins led off the inning with a single and she scored on an error. Coleman scored on a Rivers bunt single.
The road side took the lead for good in the second inning when Belisle smashed the first pitch she saw from Rivers down the right-field line for a triple. She scored a batter later on an error.
“He always says stuff to his players when I’m at the plate, so I try not to listen to him,” Belisle said of her dad. “He’s telling them where I’m going to hit it or he tells one side of the field to watch out. He knows where I’m going to hit it. That hit felt good and he was mad. We have a great relationship.”
“I’ve been looking forward to seeing her play varsity for a long time,” Dan Belisle said. “It’s a strange feeling to watch her play from the other bench, but I’m enjoying it.”
Young was perfect in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings as the Mounties slowly expanded their lead. Olivia Venditelli hit her second straight RBI single in the third inning and the senior came around to score to increase the lead to four. Belisle made the score 7-2 in the fourth when she reached on an error and score on a hit by Young.
“It’s a unique situation for Caitlyn, but she handled it well,” Coleman said. “I didn’t see any nerves and when it was time to play, it was all business. She was phenomenal over the last two games. She has a lot of potential and she’s very coachable. She works hard and she’s willing to make adjustments and it’s paying off.”
Freshman Lily Venditelli added a run in the fifth inning and then Thibault drove in Zuena in the sixth inning and Young scored her third run of the game to finish the score. The Mounties are back in action Friday afternoon against Johnston and then Lincoln makes the trip up Route 126 on Saturday morning.
Mounties blank Novans in D-II opener – Young whiffs 15 in three-hitter to lead softball team to 9-0 win
By Kayla Panu, Valley Breeze Sports Writer
May 12, 2021
WOONSOCKET – For the first time in seven years, Woonsocket’s two high school softball teams battled each other in a divisional matchup, doing so last Saturday morning in their Division II-North opener at Mount Saint Charles Academy.
And that game belonged to Mounties, who not only collected 13 hits, but also received an outstanding outing on the mound from sophomore pitcher Olivia Young in posting a 9-0 victory in Henry Coleman’s debut as the Mounties’ head coach.
Mount’s battery of Young and senior catcher Callie Thibault led the charge, as Young blanked the Novans on three hits, striking out 15 batters and walking no one, and Thibault, who scored three runs, and Young each went 3-for-4 with a double at the plate.
“It’s exciting,” said Coleman, who was supposed to make his head coaching debut last year, but saw that season get canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s great to be out here, especially to see the girls, more than anything, after what we all went through last year. They’ve been phenomenal since day one. They’ve been working hard and they have been very receptive to the coaching staff with anything that we bring up during practice.”
Suffering from an injury bug, the Villa Novans were down their top two starting pitchers, sophomore Rylie Forcier and freshman Julia Raymond, and that meant senior Leah Rivers needed to step in. Head coach Dan Belisle said that he does not know how long either pitcher will be out, but he was pleased with Rivers’ performance.
“Early-season misfortune, I guess you can call it, losing both pitchers, and we’ve just had to adjust on the fly,” Belisle said. “But Leah was fantastic and threw strikes, and the defense made a bunch of nice plays for her. Leah did her job in an emergency, and she had no idea she was pitching until about a half hour before the game. Even though the score was the way it was, we’re coming out of here with a little confidence.”
In the bottom of the first inning, the Mounties were ready to go. Kaylie Leclair drove the first pitch she saw up the middle for a single, and after she took second on a groundout and third on a single to center by Thibault, both runners pulled off a double steal to produce Mount’s first run. Thibault, who will continue her softball career at the College of the Holy Cross, then scored on a single to left by Young.
“It was really good to see,” Coleman added. “The girls were putting the ball in play and being aggressive on the basepaths. They were just making things happen. I thought Kaylie and Callie really set the table, getting things rolling. And Callie was just a rock behind the plate, and she’s going to be one of the better catchers in our division.”
The Mounties tacked on two more runs in the third and five more in the fifth, as freshman Lily Venditelli socked two doubles and drove in three runs late in the game. Also joining the hit parade was Belisle’s daughter, sophomore Caitlin Belisle, who added a double.
“I was happy for her, but I had to keep it a secret,” admitted Belisle, who saw sophomore Dakota Owen collect two of his team’s hits, and her classmate, Aje’ana Coleman, add a double.
As for Young, “she did a really good job hitting her spots,” added the MSC head coach, whose senior captains are Leclair, Thibault, and Talia Fernandes, who is out with an injury she suffered during basketball season. “And Callie did a nice job calling the game, mixing it up, and setting hitters up in different situations, depending on the count.”
Also playing well for the Novans was senior Abby Desjardin, who is in her first season as the starting shortstop and turned in a excellent game defensively.
Desjardin and senior outfielder Tianna Carpentier are Woonsocket’s captains.
“She’s pretty strong,” Belisle said. “She’s got a good arm and she makes the plays.”
While both teams are relatively young this spring, with sophomores and freshmen making up a good chunk of their rosters, both head coaches are hoping they will be in the fight for a playoff spot come the end of next month.
“I don’t know what to expect from the other teams and I know it’s going to take a little while,” the Woonsocket head coach said. “We have some catching up to do, and now we have some injuries to overcome. But I think we’re going to be a second-half team, and we’re going to play much better in the second half than we are right now.”
“We’re still a work in progress,” added Coleman. “But I think we’re heading in the right direction, and we can be a competitive team fighting for a playoff berth by the end of the season. (Last Saturday’s win) was just a real good start to the season, and hopefully we can build off this.”
Both teams were scheduled to play each other again on Wednesday afternoon at the Novans’ new home field at Cass Park. The Mounties’ next two games are at home – on Friday at 4 p.m., they will host Johnston, and on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., they will face Lincoln – while the Villa Novans will host Scituate on Saturday at 11 a.m.
2021 CALL/TIMES SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Youth will be served
By Brendan McGair & Branden Mello
May 8, 2021
The beauty of the 2021 high school softball season is that every team in the state has already brushed up against adversity long before an official pitch was thrown in an actual game.
No one has stepped onto the diamond for an interscholastic game since June of 2019 — the 2020 season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, a lot has changed.
Several teams have changed divisions – upward movement and heading down. A handful of local clubs were left no choice but to form co-ops due to low participation. The number of actual divisions has increased from three to four.
Still, the most noticeable difference – one that jumps off the page – comes when examining the makeup of each team’s roster. Essentially, coaches are breaking in not one but two grade levels – this year’s sophomores, who weren’t afforded a freshman season to get acclimated to varsity (or JV) life, and this year’s group of ninth graders.
“It’s good to have youth in the program, but they’re all new because we didn’t have a season last year,” said Cumberland head coach Marty Crowley. “To be fair to everybody, we decided to keep extra kids. It’s tough to judge what they can and can’t do in four days.”
As different as things appear to be, the season figures to look normal. Teams can look forward to a postseason tournament following a five-week regular season, hence the goal of reaching Rhode Island College remains the primary objective.
As for who to keep an eye on, here’s a look at the squads that fall within the Call/Times
readership. Schools were arranged alphabetically within their corresponding divisions.
MOUNT ST. CHARLES
Head coach: Henry Coleman
2019 regular-season league record: 5-13 (Division I-Thornton)
2019 postseason results: Lost to Chariho (11-0) in D-I single-elimination preliminary round.
Returning players: Kaylie Leclair, senior, SS/OF; Callie Thibault, senior, C/SS; Olivia Vendittelli, senior, 1B.
Notable newcomers: Samantha Bacon, senior, OF; Caitlin Belisle, sophomore, OF; Brooke Forget, sophomore, OF/C; Chandra Morelli, sophomore, OF; Olivia Young, sophomore, P/3B; Jade Zuena, sophomore, OF/SS; Carolyn Acker, freshman, 3B/P; Isabella Stanzione, freshman, OF/3B; Lily Vendittelli, freshman, 2B/OF.
Outlook: The Mounties feature a nice mix of upperclassmen led by this year’s captains –Thibault, Leclair, and Talia Fernandes – along with a host of newcomers. MSC returns only two starters, Thibault and Leclair. Fernandes will be sidelined for the season after suffering a knee injury during this past basketball season. … Mount will be looking to mix it up with their speed and power, along with playing small ball at times. … The Holy Cross-bound Thibault, a returning All-Division player, will be behind the plate. She’ll be asked to anchor the defense and control the running game with her arm. Offensively, Thibault has the potential become one of the division’s top hitters. … Per Coleman, two players who could have breakout seasons would be Leclair and Young. … Leclair will bat leadoff. Defensively with her speed, Leclair should have no trouble getting to just about anything hit in her direction. … Young will be Mount’s top pitcher. She features decent velocity and a nice mix of pitches that she can throw at any point in the count. She has also displayed some pop in her bat, hence why Coleman will be placing her name in the middle part of the lineup. … Coleman accepted the MSC job in Jan. 2020. Nearly a year-and-a-half later, he finally gets to coach his first high school softball game. … Similar to Lincoln, the Mounties dropped from D-I to D-II.